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theMusicMan
5th February 2008, 11:25 PM
As the title asks... are British Rail stations considered public areas...? What are the rules regarding taking photographs when in them...? Are there restrictions as to what you can take photographs of, and what you might not be permitted to take photographs of...? Does it make a difference if you are 'press'...!!??

Lot's of questions I appreciate, but I had an extremely interesting experience today, and a very puzzling one at that; with contradictory advice from (1) two know-all security jobsworths, and (2) two very accommodating police officers.

I purchased a saver return ticket this morning for my journey to London today as I left Newport after 09:00, and I didn't intend to get to Paddington until after 18:30 - thus saving my client almost £100 on the cost of a return fare. As it happened, I finished my meeting very early, and having accomplished all my client needed I found myself in Paddington station at 17:15 thus with 1 hour and 30 minutes to kill. I just so happened to have my E-3 (plus 14-54 and 11-22) in my bag (how on earth did they get there :) ) and decided to take some shots.

Literally within minutes I was approached by two Security Officials who asked what I was doing, and what I was taking photographs of. I explained that I was an amateur tog and what I was taking shots of, and they said yes I could continue as long as I wasn't press, but only with their permission... and... if I was approached again I should refer whoever approached me to these two guys, citing I had permission from them to use my camera!! Now there's a load of baloney if I ever heard any. They then proceeded to tell me I wasn't really allowed to take photos in the station as it wasn't a public area. Security guard #2 advised me that there are no such things as public areas :eek::eek: and even outside, the streets are owned by Westminster City Council and I wasn't allowed to take photos there without permission. By this time it had become obvious to me that security guard #2 had left his his tiny brain under his pillow...

Two police officers walked by, smiled at me wryly, and proceeded on their way. I wondered why they did this... which was obviously in a 'fun' way - and I guessed they knew something that I didn't :)

I left the two security guards thinking they were Gods gift to security officialdom and that they knew it all (I did want to take photos after all, yeah) and decided to approach the two police officers and ask them for advice. They were extremely accommodating and helpful, and contradicted the security guards by informing me I was free to take any photos I wanted - as long as I did it in a legal manner i.e. not trespassing onto the tracks or into the cabs of the loco's, or in private (staff) areas of the station. They told me that the security guards always get it wrong, and to avoid being stopped by them or others again, that I should simply go to station reception, explain what I wanted to do (kill 90 minutes by taking photos) and ask for a pass. I did this, and obtained an official visitors badge from reception and had a fantastic 90 minutes of free for all shooting. It felt great being considered the 'pro' and all 'official'.... :) Some superb advice from the police there.

With my 'official' badge in full view clipped to my coat, it was like I had stepped into a whole new world. I was treated by the staff like royalty. When I was behind ticket barriers trying to take shots of stuff, they voluntarily asked if I wanted to come through and get closer (which I did, just for the hell of it!!!), they asked if I needed assistance to get through crowds... it was amazing. All for the sake of (1) excellent advice by the police and (2) an official - easily obtained and visible - visitors pass.

A wonderful outcome ensued by my obtaining this visitors badge from reception, thus being allowed access everywhere without being approached or apprehended. I would wholeheartedly recommend doing this to everyone... if you have time to kill at a BR station, simply see if you can find station reception, tell them what you want to do, and they will help in any way they can. Brilliant! well at least it was at Paddington today.

So - back to my original questions - what's your thoughts on those please...?

I'll be posting some shots I took on my 'official and un-apprehended' travels through Paddington (http://e-group.uk.net/forum/showthread.php?t=796) in a separate thread... nothing extraordinary about the shots... but I would like to share the experience with you and show you at least some of the shots.

Ellie
5th February 2008, 11:59 PM
Aaargh! It's complicated. As far as I (we) know, British Rail was given delegated powers to create their own bye-laws and to have their own enforcers - British Transport Police; car park ticketers/clampers etc. Railway stations/lines are 'private' because the land is owned by a company. They can make you pay to go onto the any above ground station platforms if they want, but generally don't bother because - it's too difficult to enforce, people don't understand it's only a platform ticket, and the necessary barriers could have caused problems if a lot of people needed to get out in a hurry. They can also put up notices saying something is prohibited, such as taking photographs, same as any private landowner can, but it's not likely to be enforced if you're using something little like a mobile phone and taking the odd picture or two.

Buying a travel ticket gives you permission to be on a particular part of the land so you can get onto a train, but doesn't necessarily give consent for anything else.

It's brilliant to know there's an easy way to get permission to take pictures that will guarantee a no-hassle experience. Thank you so much for sharing your tip, it's something I might try some time :)

Nick Temple-Fry
6th February 2008, 12:16 AM
http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/777.aspx

But network rail only operate the major stations, the rest of the stations are controlled by the various train operating companies who may choose to have their own restrictions.

Nice to hear that both the police and the station staff were so helpful.

I wonder if you had a p/s camera or a camera phone if anyone would have bothered you - not that you'd want to shoot with them.

Nick

E-P1 fan
6th February 2008, 12:20 AM
Well done John. This country's gone security & surveiilance mad :mad:

Nick Temple-Fry
6th February 2008, 12:35 AM
http://www.networkrail.co.uk/aspx/777.aspx

But network rail only operate the major stations, the rest of the stations are controlled by the various train operating companies who may choose to have their own restrictions.

Nice to hear that both the police and the station staff were so helpful.

I wonder if you had a p/s camera or a camera phone if anyone would have bothered you - not that you'd want to shoot with them.

Nick

http://www.nationalrail.co.uk/passenger_services/guidelines_for_rail_enthusiasts.htm

National guidelines - same as for Network Rail

Nick

PeterD
6th February 2008, 01:39 AM
Being as my interests lie in Railways as well as photography I am surprised at your experience. I have, on numerous occasions, taken photos at stations and lineside as indeed many an enthusiast has.
I suppose the Security people were being over sensitive in case you were creating images to assist in some illegal act. The location is one of the most sensitive areas as London transport is perceived as vulnerable to terrorist actions.
I doubt if you would have drawn so much attention outside London. Look at the comments made when people take photos in the streets of London on another recent thread.
Its very sad that we are in these times.

Best regards

PeterD

veggiesosage
6th February 2008, 03:32 AM
I spent a whole day at St Pancras taking shots (some of which will be in Digital SLR User magazine, out this Thursday plug plug) with nary a peep. It looks a lot better as well so I'd suggest you go over there next time.

Stations are 'private property' although its not specifically to do with ownership. They were private property when they were owned by the state. Every piece of land is owned by somebody in the UK and I suspect this is what your security guard meant. Whether somewhere is 'private'or 'public' really depends on whether the owner has the right to excude the public or whether the public has free access. This can be set out in legislation or common law including encroachment.

Train stations don't like flash photography, you have to get permission for commercial photography and they ask you to report to the station manager on arrival and keep an eye out for terrorists. Other than that they're happy to let you potter around pretty much.

But yes, they could change that in an instant as its private property. However, if you get a security guard trying this I'd suggest you go and see the station master as s/he would be the one who has overall authority on the ground.

E-P1 fan
6th February 2008, 08:30 AM
Very good shots Andy

DerekW
6th February 2008, 10:28 AM
A few years ago South Western trains introduced 444 type train sets. Allen, a wheelchair bound friend, wanted to see how wheelchair friendly the trains and station was.

Allen arranged thru a contact at SW trains to "borrow" a train at Portsmouth Harbour station and try out the trains with his assistance dog Endal.

We got quite a few useful pictures, several of which have done the rounds of web sites, disability magazines, doggy magazines, local papers.

A year later I got a trip up the BT Tower to a reception to celebrate 20 years or so of the Disabled RailCard that is coordinated by the train operating companies.

sapper
6th February 2008, 11:07 AM
Thanks for this info John, very helpful.
Dave.

Ijay37
6th February 2008, 12:49 PM
Slightly of topic but yesterday it was announced on BBC Northwest Tonight that if you went within 400yds of the Riverdance you could be liable to a fine of upto 50,000:eek:
John

theMusicMan
6th February 2008, 12:53 PM
Slightly of topic but yesterday it was announced on BBC Northwest Tonight that if you went within 400yds of the Riverdance you could be liable to a fine of upto 50,000:eek:
John
Hmmmm.... what's this John...? a mickey take...?? :)

Ijay37
6th February 2008, 12:57 PM
Hmmmm.... what's this John...? a mickey take...?? :)

Sadly not they are afraid the ship may roll over.
John

PeterD
6th February 2008, 01:06 PM
Sadly not they are afraid the ship may roll over.
John

But the ship is virtually on the beach and its not that big.

Kind regards

PeterD

Ellie
6th February 2008, 11:10 PM
if you went within 400yds of the Riverdance you could be liable to a fine of up to 50,000 ..... they are afraid the ship may roll over.
John
It's hardly going to roll 400 yards is it? It does seem rather extreme.

PeterD
6th February 2008, 11:16 PM
It's hardly going to roll 400 yards is it? It does seem rather extreme.

Ellie,

I think its due to several layers of safety managers, each has to add a bit to make them feel important.:rolleyes:

PeterD

alert_bri
6th February 2008, 11:44 PM
Welcome to The Nanny State! LOL

Great tips & nice shots John, thanks for sharing.

Kind Regards

Brian

HughofBardfield
7th February 2008, 05:34 PM
If you are confused / concerned about the way the law surrounding photography in "public" is currently being implemented, you might want to look at this petition on the 10 Downing Street website:

http://petitions.pm.gov.uk/photographylaw/

The preamble reads:
"Through history, we have documented the world around us, whether through written word, art or photography. Photography in particular has provided fantastic insights into the past and present, and is a hobby enjoyed by millions of people worldwide.

"But today, it's becoming increasingly difficult to take photos of our surroundings, particularly in cities like London. In recent years, the price divide between professional and consumer equipment has blurred, and it's quite common these days to see amateurs and hobbyists carrying around tripods, SLR cameras and a backpack full of equipment. Yet, we are constantly harrassed by security guards and police officers in the name of preventing terrorism. They seem to be operating under a different interpretation of the law to the rest of us, believing that somehow the length of your lens, or size of your camera is relevant.

"We would like clarification by the goverment on the law regarding photography of buildings and landmarks from public locations."

This (to my mind, worthwhile) petition currently only has 318 signatories. I'm surprised that more people haven't been minded to sign up to it, especially in view of the various stories about over-zealous police and CSOs in the photographic press recently.

alert_bri
7th February 2008, 06:26 PM
Thanks Hugh, make that 319... it's the least I can do!

Is there an 'anti-nanny state, encourage personal responsibility' petition I can sign? lol

Kind Regards

Brian

E-P1 fan
7th February 2008, 06:58 PM
Me too :)

DerekW
7th February 2008, 07:00 PM
Downside of the petition is a clarification to protect the state over the interests of the individual. If in doubt say no attitude

At the moment the law is fuzzy and so one can probably sail close to the wind, if it is clarified they could bring in laws about the use and ownership of lenses over a certain focal length unless a license is purchased.

Melaka
7th February 2008, 07:17 PM
My understanding is that a public place is, broadly speaking, anywhere to which the public have, or are permitted to have, access by payment or otherwise and includes public footpaths and public highways. What matters is not who owns it but whether the public are entitled to be there. You're certainly entitled to be on a railway station but I guess there could be byelaws that limit photography although I think that unlikely. The visitor's pass seems a brilliant idea.

Ellie
8th February 2008, 01:01 AM
At the moment the law is fuzzy and so one can probably sail close to the wind, if it is clarified they could bring in laws about the use and ownership of lenses over a certain focal length unless a license is purchased.
That's the only thing that worries me about that petition.

As far as I know the situation is as Melaka describes - if you've got the right to see something from a public place you also have the right to photograph it. I'd hate to see that changed, because with the number of CCTV cameras and the recent changes regarding parking offences it'd be only a short step to getting a fine through the post for taking the wrong sort of photograph from the wrong sort of place.

I'd hate to give the law-writers the excuse to write a law that might make me a criminal for doing something that doesn't hurt anybody.

HughofBardfield
8th February 2008, 11:16 AM
I'd hate to give the law-writers the excuse to write a law that might make me a criminal for doing something that doesn't hurt anybody.

I agree completely, but what seems to be needed now is an intelligent public debate about this whole issue. We will only get that if enough people rattle cages in Whitehall. As others have pointed out, there are actually remarkably few "public" places in law in the UK, and the current terrorism paranoia is not helping anyone as it gives security staff and the police a licence to harass, with a consequent erosion of civil liberties. The joys of an unwritten constitution...

A handy PDF guide to the law in the UK is available through here:
http://www.flickr.com/groups/lawgroup/discuss/72157600204863211/

I carry a couple of copies of this in my camera bag, but have not had to use them - yet.

Another issue of concern was raised by one of my Flickr contacts, who was asked if he had public liability insurance when he wanted to use a tripod in an (empty!) church. The railway station issue above is interesting as, if an accident had been caused by the photographer (tripod leapt out and bit someone, for example), the railway operator could have been considered liable for giving permission. My camera insurance carries 2M public liability insurance, and I am separately insured for anything I do for work purposes, but how long will it be before a request to see camera insurance becomes as routine as a police check for car insurance?

Paulpp
8th February 2008, 12:15 PM
Some years ago I did some voluntary work for English Heritage photographing listed buildings. They were quite clear that the law was that you could photograph anything (except if national security was involved) providing you did so from public land - important as listed buildings are often in private ownership and on private land. Which makes the situation re railway stations etc interesting as presumably they are not public land in the way that a street is? And of course the terrorism debate adds a different dimension as well as giving an excuse to those who would prefer not to have photographers around.

Nick Temple-Fry
8th February 2008, 12:36 PM
Unfortunately the current mindset of legislators (of all creeds) is to restrict and manage in the interest of the 'public good' and they can always find reasons to do so (safety, health, terrorism etc), we no longer have people brave enough to say 'I didn't do anything, because really the issue isn't very important'.

Over my half century the mindset has moved from 'you are free to do what you want except in very specific circumstances' to 'you have the freedoms we define for you'.

Asking for the law to be clarified is tantamount to asking for our freedom to be restricted.

We should be asking our politicians, on a daily basis

"How are you going to make me more free today?"

Nick

Scapula Memory
8th February 2008, 01:30 PM
"How are you going to make me more free today?"

Nick


They will probably inform you of their intention to spend over 1 billion pounds on a national ID card.

In any case the money will not be the issue...guess who`s paying?

John.

Ellie
8th February 2008, 11:50 PM
We should be asking our politicians, on a daily basis

"How are you going to make me more free today?"
Ah, but, you see, we are free because they say so. They make sure we're free to do all sorts of things because they keep an eye on us all the time.

Sometimes I feel as if I'm in a zoo, the number of cameras that are watching me. I often feel like waving, to see if I get a reaction. :rolleyes:

Has anybody been anywhere where there are those speaking cameras?

Nick Temple-Fry
9th February 2008, 01:39 AM
Ah, but, you see, we are free because they say so. They make sure we're free to do all sorts of things because they keep an eye on us all the time.

Sometimes I feel as if I'm in a zoo, the number of cameras that are watching me. I often feel like waving, to see if I get a reaction. :rolleyes:

Has anybody been anywhere where there are those speaking cameras?

Never did 1984 seem a more appropriate book.

Nick

Ellie
9th February 2008, 01:47 AM
Never did 1984 seem a more appropriate book.
Hmm, it was meant to be a novel, not an instruction manual!

Nick Temple-Fry
9th February 2008, 01:55 AM
Hmm, it was meant to be a novel, not an instruction manual!

What's the smiley for Laugh out Loud but with tears in my eyes?

Nic

Ellie
10th February 2008, 12:02 AM
What's the smiley for Laugh out Loud but with tears in my eyes?
Here are a couple. Any good?
http://yelims4.free.fr/MDR/MDR40.gif
http://e.deviantart.com/emoticons/r/rofl.gif

alert_bri
10th February 2008, 12:43 PM
On the entrance door of a garden centre... saying "No Photography Allowed on these premises" - I was shocked and dismayed. I can't imagine how they got to the point of doing that?

Maybe some zealous photographer took a tripod inside to take shots of flowers?... and this was just around the corner from my daughter's horse riding school, where I was asked to refrain from taking photos of my own daughter taking her lesson!

These aren't government officials... they're small business owners, I just don't get the anti-photography mentality - especially when anyone can whip their camera phone out and grab a shot unnoticed anyway!

Kind Regards

Brian

theMusicMan
10th February 2008, 05:49 PM
On the entrance door of a garden centre... saying "No Photography Allowed on these premises" - I was shocked and dismayed. I can't imagine how they got to the point of doing that?

Maybe some zealous photographer took a tripod inside to take shots of flowers?... and this was just around the corner from my daughter's horse riding school, where I was asked to refrain from taking photos of my own daughter taking her lesson!

These aren't government officials... they're small business owners, I just don't get the anti-photography mentality - especially when anyone can whip their camera phone out and grab a shot unnoticed anyway!

Kind Regards

Brian
If I were paying someone to teach my daughter to ride, and they told me I should refrain from taking photographs, I'd simply tell them to take a hike and I'd take my business elsewhere.

alert_bri
10th February 2008, 05:54 PM
I know John, but it's not that simple... in all other respects we are extremely happy with the stables - and if I feel the need to take photos in the future, I'll simply discuss the matter again with the owner - he caught me off guard when he mentioned the 'policy' after I'd been photographing my daughter recently.

Kind Regards

Brian

E-P1 fan
10th February 2008, 06:28 PM
Sounds like that moral panic bit again - pics of other people's kids in the background etc - snotty parents objecting

Nick Temple-Fry
10th February 2008, 06:55 PM
Sounds like that moral panic bit again - pics of other people's kids in the background etc - snotty parents objecting

Well, there could be other things at play. For example

- Parents who can't control the camera flash
- Kids who get distracted by a camera (some go shy, some act up etc)
- Pushy parents who ignore safety areas to get photographs.

You can understand the stables wanting some control, I'd wait to see what a polite request can achieve.

But yes, there is this pervasive panic, a whole generation being brought upto fear anyone doing anything different.

Nick

E-P1 fan
10th February 2008, 07:19 PM
Good points Nick

theMusicMan
10th February 2008, 10:21 PM
Hi Nick, you make some very good points as ever sir, but if my daughter was enrolled at a stables / riding school where I was paying for lessons, then these would not be anywhere near good enough reasons for me.

I articulate my answers to your points in your text below. Not trying to be confrontational here Nick, but if I were a client, and I wanted to capture photographs of my daughter on her riding lessons... this is my prerogative, and not theirs to tell me that I can or cannot do this. If they did try to tell me this, for the reasons you have articulated, then I'd simply take my business elsewhere, sorry.

Well, there could be other things at play. For example

- Parents who can't control the camera flash: OK, I can understand some horses might be easily spooked by camera flash, but very unlikely that these horses would be those used in Riding Shcools. However, if this is an issue, then simply have a rule... "Photographers Note: Please, no flash to be used - horses can get spooked and your child could be placed in danger".

Not enough of a reason to disallow photography of my daughter, sorry.

- Kids who get distracted by a camera (some go shy, some act up etc): I suggest that those kids who are on their lesson and are on horseback, should concentrate on riding their horses, not on seeking out people taking photos of them; and the parents of those kids who are on their lessons on horseback, should advise their kids to concentrate on riding their horses.

Again, not enough of a reason for me not to be allowed to photograph my daughter.

- Pushy parents who ignore safety areas to get photographs. I suggest pushy parents are advised (as in the case of the cops informing me that we are allowed to take photographs in BR stations, just not whilst standing on the tracks!) that they can only take their photos whilst it is safe to do so. If they don't, then they are not permitted and their kids may lose their place at riding school. If I knew my daughter didn't like her photo being taken, then I wouldn't take it, nor would I wish to make her feel uncomfortable. But not taking the photographs would be my decision, and not the Riding Schools decision.

Once gain, simply not enough of a reason to tell me I cannot take photographs of my daughter.

You can understand the stables wanting some control, I'd wait to see what a polite request can achieve.

But yes, there is this pervasive panic, a whole generation being brought up to fear anyone doing anything different.

Nick

art frames
10th February 2008, 10:53 PM
Has anybody been anywhere where there are those speaking cameras?

Yes we have them in Northampton town centre.

Suddenly a klaxon sounds and a voice says 'stop doing that..., the police have been called we have your picture etc, etc,' All of the honest law abiding people jump a mile. I am sure they have a waiting list for the security guard jobs! Huge sense of power and status to be gained from shouting at people.

I haven't tried to photograph them beating up shoppers - no doubt that isn't allowed!

Northampton is a horrible place nowadays.

PeterD
10th February 2008, 11:03 PM
Yes we have them in Northampton town centre.

Suddenly a klaxon sounds and a voice says 'stop doing that..., the police have been called we have your picture etc, etc,' All of the honest law abiding people jump a mile. I am sure they have a waiting list for the security guard jobs! Huge sense of power and status to be gained from shouting at people.

I haven't tried to photograph them beating up shoppers - no doubt that isn't allowed!

Northampton is a horrible place nowadays.

But Peter, Its all been installed to protect your rights with funding generously donated from your council tax contributions. You should be forever grateful to the councillors for providing you this protection.:rolleyes:

Kind regards

PeterD

sapper
11th February 2008, 06:46 AM
I remember reading about the restrictions on photography some time ago in relation to child protection. The writer suggested that lots of photographers, 1000's should congregate on a public beach and start photographing children, just to demonstrate their right to photograph in a public place. The world has gone mad with petty officials saying we can or cannot photograph here.
'They' photograph us all the time with 'their' cctv cameras.
Maybe we should all wave at them as we pass.
Remember, government only govern with OUR permission.
Dave.

E-P1 fan
11th February 2008, 08:11 AM
The local chavs in the nearby city gather round in the square near these talking cameras - and deliberately try to set thyem off - huge fun for them apparently *reindeer

yorky
11th February 2008, 10:56 AM
Sounds like the local Chavs have the right idea for once, If everbody set them off the would stop using them. More power to there elbow. Too many jobsworths thse days.

Scapula Memory
11th February 2008, 11:23 AM
As Richard Thomas the information minister described we are now a surveillance society. How does this grab you?

4.2m CCTV cameras
300 CCTV appearances a day
Reg plate recognition cameras
Shop RFID tags
Mobile phone triangulation
Store loyalty cards
Credit card transactions
London Oyster cards
Satellites
Electoral roll
NHS patient records
Personal video recorders
Phone-tapping
Hidden cameras/bugs
Worker call monitoring
Worker clocking-in
Mobile phone cameras
Internet cookies
Keystroke programmes

And yet we are treated like criminals for wanting to take pictures?
Something needs to change.

Ellie
11th February 2008, 01:52 PM
We had to sign forms to take pictures when our daughter was in Rainbows/Brownies/Guides it was something they apparently had to do because of "Child Protection" issues.

Some schools ban photography at plays, concerts etc, claiming child protection issues - doesn't seem fair, because they're one-of events and are part of a child growing up. These events are so precious for parents.

As for the riding lessons thing, it seems odd that they can stop you taking a picture of your own child - fully clothed and riding a horse when there'd be no problem with you taking a picture of her when she's wearing a swimming costume and standing on a beach.

There's far too much neurosis about photography. It's almost as if 'they' think you're stealing their soul by taking a picture. If somebody wants to take photos of children in compromising circumstances they still seem to manage to do it - and that's the real issue, surely. I can't imagine anybody thinking an ordinary, everyday picture is worthy of staring at to achieve some sort of satisfaction.

And all the stuff about is being watched - it's all in our best interests, is meant to be cost effective. Pity they turn off the CCTV cameras in our town during the night, because that's when most shop crime seems to take place - and there are no Police because they've been taken off the streets and/or put into the city centres.

E-P1 fan
11th February 2008, 03:08 PM
As usual it's the nutcase minority spoiling it for the decent majority. In this case perverts and fundamentalists -ugh! :mad: